“From what I’ve been hearing from a lot of people, they weren’t going to make a stink, but I just think they thought it was too big an increase,” Carroll said. “A lot of people are just saying, ‘We can’t afford this.’”
The proposed $111.15 million combined budget represents a 4.71 percent increase from the current year. Of that, about $72 million was the Board of Education’s recommended budget, and $39 million was the Board of Selectmen’s recommended town budget.
The proposed education budget represented a 5.5 percent increase while they proposed town budget represented a 3.34 percent increase.
As written, the budget would have required a 33.7-mill tax rate, a 5.24 percent increase from the current year.
Between them, the school and town budgets included nearly $1 million to hire additional police officers in order to have armed police resource officers, as well as unarmed security guards in each of the district’s seven schools.
The bulk of that money, to fund the police officers, was in the selectmen’s municipal budget, said Llodra.
Money for the unarmed security guards was in the school budget.
Funds also were in the budget to help pay security costs for the town’s three private schools.
Many residents coming out of the school were more than happy to discuss how they voted and why.
“I voted yes. I think it’s necessary,” said Sandy Hook resident Judy Rosentel. In fact, “I vote yes every year, and I didn’t want to come back and vote again,” she said.
“I voted no on everything,” said Sandy Hook resident Jim Shpunt, a member of the Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Co. “I think the budget is way out of line on everything. ... I think there are a lot of ways we can save the town money,” he said.
“I voted for it,” said another Sandy Hook resident who would identify himself only by his first name, Tom. Because of all the town has been through in the past few months since the Dec. 14 mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, “I guess for this election...I give them the benefit of the doubt.”
But Nick Barzetti of Flat Swamp Road said he voted no, just like he always does.
“I’ve been voting no for 40 years,” said Barzetti, who said his views are pretty well known around town, in part because he’s not shy about expressing them in letters to the editor of the local newspapers.
“I just think that a teacher making $80,000 to $90,000 a year, working 180 days ... I just think it’s an absolute” travesty, he said.
“A lot of people in town are paying $15,000 to $20,000 a year” in property taxes, he said.
Karin Hooper, also a Sandy Hook resident, said she thought the total was too high, so despite the issues about increase school security, “I voted no.”
She’s not convinced that having armed officers in every school is the way to go.
“I don’t know if we researched it enough,” Hooper said. She said she would like to see aggressive research of other security measures besides armed guards, including physical changes in the schools.